May 17, 2005
Fuel Cell Uses Blood As Energy Source

An implantable fuel cell uses glucose from blood to generate a weak electric current. (same article here)

The biological fuel cell uses glucose, a sugar in blood, with a non-toxic substance used to draw electrons from glucose, said the team led by Matsuhiko Nishizawa, bio-engineering professor at the graduate school of state-run Tohoku University.

The fuel cell puts out only 0.2 milliwatts.

The fuel cell has the size of a small coin and can generate 0.2 milliwatts of electric power.

While 0.2 milliwatts is not much power it is enough to operate, say, a blood glucose sensor or other very small implanted sensor. Given the expected future availability of implantable sensors based on nanotechnology a small power source to operate them would be valuable.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2005 May 17 07:32 AM  Cyborg Tech

Stephen Gordon said at May 18, 2005 2:23 PM:

I'm guessing that a hydroelectric damn in an artery is a very bad idea. :-) But why not microscopic windmills in the lungs?

More seriously, the ultimate would be to use the body's regular fuel source, ATP, to power medical devices.

Is that how this fuel cell works?

jmgordon said at May 18, 2005 3:21 PM:

This is excellent news. This seems to me one of the key technologies for enabling medical nanotechnology. Any medical nanotechnology will most likely require a blood based energy supply. I wonder what the waste products are and if they are toxic.


Braddock said at May 19, 2005 5:05 AM:

Contrast the size of this fuel cell (a small coin) with the size of the body's energy generators, the mitochondria. Mitochondria are about a micron in length and vary in number depending on cell type and other factors relating to energy demand. The more energy demand, the more mitochondria a healthy cell will make to meet the demand. The more mitochondria, the more ATP can be produced.

The poster above who referred to using ATP to power medical sensors is on the right track. ATP is a chemical/mechanical energy source on a molecular scale. Finding ways to utilize substances the body makes anyway would be intelligent. Unfortunately too many mems researchers focus on miniaturizing macro sized approaches to problem solving.

They do not teach lateral thinking in government schools.

Jason said at May 27, 2005 5:54 PM:

The problem with ATP is that it exists only intra-cell (I think). You won't find any freely available in the blood stream, although it might be worth looking into a bio-tech fuel cell designed to make it.

raoul said at October 22, 2011 8:06 AM:

this means that we, human beeings operate with electric current thus powered by our blood and we have a neural network of brain cells witch in fact operate based on electric current? if this is true this means we are no more than a bunch of wires powerred up by some energy within us and run a multitude of chemical and other pfhenomenon that we call concious mind and cognitive behaviour wich WE can be and can entirely and absolutly DEFINE but we are not capable of doing it not yet i htink. the real hussle is to fiind unlimited power coming from our blood and solve our current energy and sustainability problem from our current star date and thus save ourselves for the future having no trouble THEN to change the past LITERALY.

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